Types Of Deck Railings, Materials and Styles to Consider

Types of Deck Railing

The railings of your deck are a significant part of the entire project and should be chosen carefully. Because the deck’s railings are essentially visible from everywhere on your property, aesthetics play a significant role. Safety and the views in the area are two aspects of railings that should also be given significant consideration.

There are many deck railing types currently on the market. They can differ significantly according to type or style, with some overlap between the two factors. Railings can come in various styles or types, including turned, Chippendale or rustic. The main materials used are glass, metal, aluminum and wood.

With such a variety of choices when it comes to the style and material of your deck railings, it can often be difficult to make a choice. It’s important, however, that your deck railing choice takes into account views in the area as well as the general aesthetic. A poorly chosen railing can have disastrous consequences.

What Are The Types of Deck Railings?

There are countless different types of deck railings made from an assortment of different materials. It’s important to choose a material that can best withstand the environment in which it is to be installed. It’s also important that the material is aesthetically compatible with the rest of the home and its surrounding environment.

There is significant overlap with the material when it comes to the actual style or type of railing. Resultantly, this can make it even more challenging to choose between two railing types as a particular style of railing is often associated with a specific material.

Plus, some railing types are better suited to specific scenarios, whether from an aesthetic perspective or one of safety. Some types of railings are more obstructing of views than others, and so this is an extremely important factor to consider if there are views from your deck that you would still like to see once the railing is up.

Certain types of railings will simply not be a good idea from a safety perspective if your deck is a raised deck (above 30″ from the ground). The most common railing failure for safety is the potential for climbing on the railing.

But regardless of design or material a poorly-built railing is bound to be a safety hazard. If it breaks, it can’t protect you from falling.

Railings for decks are usually made from one of – or a combination of – the following materials:

  • Metal (most commonly aluminum, stainless steel, and wrought iron)
  • Wood
  • Composites
  • Glass
  • Rope

The actual style or design of the railing will differ according to how any of the above materials are used in combination with one another. Each material and style has its advantages and disadvantages, but you can always limit your options through a process of elimination to find the railing that best suits your project.

While the combinations are potentially limitless, and the number of styles grows with each passing day, there are a few styles of railing that remain staples across the majority of homes in the US. Some of the available styles include:

  • Chippendale railings
  • Craftsman railings
  • Turned Baluster railings
  • Cable railings
  • Rustic railings
  • Sawn Baluster railings
  • Fan shape railings

Looking for more ideas with pictures of deck railing designs, check out awoodrailing.comOpens in a new tab.. They have hundreds of design ideas. Don’t let the name fool you. More than just wood railing. A little caveat, not all their railing designs meet local deck building codes. Some pose a climbable hazard.

There is naturally a significant overlap between railing material and railing design. This is because certain designs are only possible through the use of specific materials. The opposite applies in that some materials can only be utilized as railings in very specific ways.

Deck Railing Materials & Styles

Wood

Wood is often a go-to material for deck railings as it is generally cost-effective and aesthetically pleasing. Wooden railings can also be customized in countless ways to suit your needs.

Wooden railings can come in a variety of styles and can be finished in several different ways to ensure a result that best suits your project.

Wood can be used to make standard picket-style railings, Chippendale railings, turned balusters, and even rustic railings where the balusters are simple pieces of misshapen timber.

A drawback with wood railingOpens in a new tab. and why I generally recommend against it is maintenance. Wood railing requires regular staining to keep it in good condition and looking good. But if you have ever stained a deck, you will know staining the railing will take more time than staining the decking. Very time-consuming.

Glass

Glass railings are an excellent choice where there are views involved. The transparency of the material will naturally prevent the views from being obstructed. This makes it an attractive option for a deck. Bear in mind that glass railings must be cleaned regularly and can become easily scratched.

Glass railing on a deck can also create a greenhouse effect, good for warming your deck on cool days but can make the deck unbearable on a hot day. As the glass reflects, the sun’s rays but blocks the cooling breeze.

Metal

Metal railings are highly commonplace to use with decking. And for good reasons, aluminum railingOpens in a new tab. is the most cost-effective railing with the lowest maintenance.

There are several different metal types used for railings, and each of these types of metal is used to create an entirely different style of railing.

Steel, iron, or powder-coated aluminum can be used for standard picket-style railings. Wrought iron railings are another beautiful type of railing that was extremely popular in the past and made for an exceptionally durable and beautiful railing on Victorian buildings and the like.

Standard metal balusters are mass-produced and can be bought in various colours and styles. This makes for an appealing railing type that is also cost-effective.

Cable railings are another option made out of metal. This railing consists of a series of horizontal metal cables that are connected to a series of vertical balusters. Marine-grade stainless steel is usually used with cable railings, and the contemporary style will fit in with almost any existing aesthetic. Plus, the cable blocks the view less than many other railing designs.

Composite

Composite railings have become extremely popular in recent years. These low-maintenance railings are either pre-manufactured and sold in kit-form. Or customizable parts can be purchased and then built to fit your deck.

One advantage of composite railingOpens in a new tab. is some of the leading composite decking brands like Trex, Timbertech, and Fiberon also make railing. Ensuring matching railing colour to your decking.

Similar to decking, composite allows you to enjoy many of the styles and designs of wood railing but without all the maintenance. Composite railings can come in various styles, but the most popular is the standard picket form.

Rope

Rope railings are a less popular option than most. They are generally used in spaces with a nautical theme. Rope railings consist of a series of simple ropes attached between vertical timber posts. Depending on how tightly attached the ropes are, the safety of this type of railing can be questionable.

Conclusion

With such an assortment of choices available on the market for deck railings, it can become challenging to choose the best one for your deck. To make the right decision, there are a few things to consider.  

  • Budget
  • Material
  • Maintenance
  • Style

With every purchase decision the question of money will always be involved. Railing is no different. I do recommend you consider the life of the railing when setting the budget. Railing that requires endless upkeep will cost more than a low-maintenance option in the long run.

Consider the possible railing materials and their aesthetics. How does it relate to the surrounding home and other features near the deck?

Maintenance needs to be considered in tandem with material. How much work will need to be done to enjoy the material selected? This is where you may consider upgrading to composite from wood. You can enjoy a similar look but with less work.

Ironically with how much the deck railing adds to the overall look of the deck I put it last. And that is because your budget and material will limit your design options. There is no point looking over thousands of railing designs if it is out of your budget or the material just does not compliment your deck. Limits can be a good thing. But do consider which railing style will best compliment your deck.

Railing is installed for safety, but it appearances complete your deck.